OLYMPIA – Washington state lawmakers are already starting to count on revenue from the legalization of marijuana, with the House approving a bill that would tap those tax dollars to expand early learning.
Before the House passed the bill on Wednesday night by a 59-38 margin, Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Shoreline, said she couldn’t think of a better use for the money. She argued that there was a clear nexus between helping children early in life and avoiding troubles later.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and federal officials have not decided whether to try to block implementation of the legalization measure. Washington is moving ahead with plans to develop a network of state-licensed growers, processors and retailers.
If the legal marijuana system does get implemented, the state stands to bring in hefty new tax revenues. The product would be taxed heavily, with analysts estimating that a legal pot market could bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new money.
Kagi’s proposal is expected to cost more than $200 million per year by the 2017-’19 biennium.
The bill now goes to the state Senate.